Country music legend Ray Price died today (Dec. 16) at his home in Texas. He was 87.
Family spokesperson and country radio veteran Bill Mack relayed the news to fans on Facebook.
“Janie just called me: Ray Price left for heaven at 4:43 p.m. Central Time. He went in perfect peace. Details later. Janie and the family so grateful for your prayers. Ray’s body will be received at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas.”
The news comes just a day after media outlets prematurely reported Price’s death.
On Thursday (Dec. 12), Price returned to his ranch to receive hospice care after his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife, Janie left a message from the singer on his Facebook page, thanking fans for their support.
“I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years and I hope I haven’t let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you again one day.”
The 87-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member initially gained attention for such innovative honky-tonk recordings such as “Crazy Arms” and would later follow with a smooth countrypolitan style on crossovers like “For the Good Times,” a song written by Kris Kristofferson that ended up being one of Price’s biggest hits.
Price was born in Perryville, Texas, on January 12, 1926. He served with the U.S. Marines from 1944–1946. Shortly after, he began singing for KRBC radio station in Abilene, Texas and later joined the Big D Jamboree in Dallas before he relocated to Nashville in the early 1950s.
In 1953, Price formed his band the Cherokee Cowboys. Early members included Roger Miller and Willie Nelson, both who would come to write songs for him. Known for his honky tonk music, he came to develop the “Ray Price Shuffle,” which was a 4/4 arrangement with a walking bassline which can be heard on “Crazy Arms.”
During his career, which spanned 60 years and produced 62 albums that received multiple Academy of Country Music and GRAMMYs, Price would go on to experiment with the Nashville sound and later gospel music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. His last album, 2007’s Last of the Breed, was recorded with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
Price had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2012 and last week, left the hospital after receiving months of aggressive treatment. Price would receive hospice care at his home in Texas until his death for what his wife deemed his “final days.”
His wife of 45 years explained the situation further in a hospital statement last week.
“With God’s blessing he has not had extreme pain,” she wrote. “But it’s with great sadness that I announce to you today that my beloved husband has entered the final stages of his cancer that he has battled for 25 months.”
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